ABOVE IMAGES SHOT WITH OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10 + PANASONIC 15mm f/1.7 and NOKIA LUMIA 1020 SMARTPHONE CAMERAS.
A lot of stock photography is about providing pictures of everyday objects and scenes. Very little of it is about creating works of art. And with this in mind it's worth taking a camera with you when you go about your daily life. The above shots were taken when I went to the Post Office, went out for a meal with a friend and gave my wife a lift to pick something up. None were planned photo trips, though on one of the occasions I did grab a camera because the light was so nice. These days I have a camera phone with me at all times, so if I see something I think would make a useful image I'm always prepared.
It's also important to realise that what appears to be mundane and commonplace to us is far from that to someone from another country and another culture. It is sometimes difficult for us to see the familiar with new eyes, but in essence that is what stock photography is all about. Stock / Library photographs are not there to be admired and appreciated (though if they can that's no bad thing) but to be used. Usually (mostly) they are bought to add pictorial support and decoration to the written word, in a magazine, newspaper on on a website.
It is a different mindset to many other photographic experiences shooting stock images and some people can opt into it and some can't. A degree of self-editing is required, as is the ability to avoid trying to produce an aesthetic image in it's own right. Large areas with nothing interesting visually are often avoided by those trying to create images, but this offers the opportunity for the buyer of the image to add text. I usually make sure I've got that kind of image in addition to a more focused view when I'm taking pictures.
All of this has become second nature to me now and I can 'see' compositions that I think will work for stock in most situations I find myself in. It's a different kind of creativity to trying to create stand alone images that are all about the sensibility, visual and intellectual aspirations of the photographer and their attempt to show us their insight on the world around them. But creative it is.
Photography IS an art, but in many instances it's also a craft. And there is nothing wrong with that. I'm happy to be judged as a craftsman and I'll leave the decision as to whether I'm an artist to others. But strangely enough, it's often when I have a more prosaic attitude to my photography that I create my favourite images.
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There is an interesting article on the BBC website HERE, which deals with many of the issues above.